What’s in a Receipt?

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

This time of year it seems like we spend more time inside stores than inside our homes. There are presents and holiday specialties to buy but the regular shopping for groceries and household necessities continues, unhindered. While the holiday hubbub often distracts us from our regular routines, it’s especially important to keep track of the receipts generated from all that shopping. Even though your purse and pockets may be overflowing with receipts for all your purchases – holiday and day-to-day as well, take some time to check them over to insure you are being charged accurately. After all, they’re only bargains if you actually paid a bargain price, so make sure reality matches what you believe you paid.

The Value of Checking Receipts

  • Check that you were charged accurately. Look at the price of each item, make sure you were charged for the number of items you actually purchased and that you weren’t charged for items you didn’t purchase. Also make sure any discounts and coupons were deducted from your total. If you do find a mistake on a receipt, contact the store’s service department as soon as possible. With the receipt in hand, you have the power to request a price correction.
  • Additional offers. Often receipts are bonuses in and of themselves. Some stores print coupons right on the front and/or back of their receipts. You wouldn’t want to miss a savings opportunity that was right in your hand, would you? In addition, some receipts provide information about participation in a survey about your shopping experience. These surveys provide marketing feedback for the stores and in return offer you a coupon or enter you into a drawing for a prize.

It’s easy to get carried away while shopping and lose track of your receipts. In the hustle and bustle, you stash them everywhere — sometimes in the bag, sometimes in your purse or pocket — without much thought. You just want to get home out of the commotion, put your feet up and have a sip or two of eggnog before you tackle putting away groceries and wrapping gifts. That’s where the receipts get lost in the shuffle: somewhere between shopping superhero and shopped-out zombie.

Tips for managing that mountain of receipts:

  • Have a regular receipt destination. Decide on the place that’s most convenient for you to store receipts while shopping and get into the habit of always putting them there. This will help prevent the inevitable panic of wondering where they all are and the time of searching in multiple locations. You can’t check them if you can’t find them.
  • Go through your receipts as soon as you get home. Time is a receipt’s worst enemy — the longer you delay going over your receipts, the more likely it is that you’ll have forgotten the correct prices. Take this opportunity to do more than check accuracy: add up your total savings from sales and discounts to mentally reward yourself for shopping frugally.
  • Store receipts at home for convenient returns. Even if your receipts are accurate, there are some you may want to keep for a while in case the item proves unsatisfactory and needs to be returned. Receipts for items other than groceries should be kept for several months. Grocery receipts should be kept a couple weeks — if something spoils before its expiration date, you can request a replacement or refund.

Receipts are more than annoying little pieces of paper. They provide proof of what you paid for and it’s smart to make sure that the stores where you shop are charging you appropriately.

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